Health workers given COVID-19 booster shot options | Inquirer News

Health workers given COVID-19 booster shot options

/ 05:44 AM November 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Mel Bunda, a nurse at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), found it necessary to get a booster dose after he was hospitalized for a severe case of COVID-19 before he was vaccinated seven months ago.

On top of having comorbidities, Bunda was deployed to the emergency room last year and had to clock in 12 hours of work daily from a usual nine-hour shift to serve COVID-19 patients.

Fully vaccinated healthcare workers like him are at risk of breakthrough infections as the effectiveness of their initial vaccines wane after several months.


“It’s an additional protection for us healthcare workers. Aside from face masks and face shields, this [would help us] especially in the hospital because we are always around patients,” Bunda told the Inquirer on Wednesday after getting his booster shot.


Other frontliners in hospitals who belong to the A1 priority group, like security guard Menandro Perilla, are also eligible for booster shots.

“That’s why I came here. Also, so Christmas would be merry for me,” Perilla said.

Bunda and Perilla are among the NKTI staff who got a jab of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as their booster dose on Wednesday. Their primary vaccine was the CoronaVac made by China’s Sinovac.

Interim guidelines

According to the interim operational guidelines released by the Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday, healthcare workers may get one booster dose at least six months after completing their primary vaccination. But those jabbed with single-dose Janssen can get theirs after only three months.

Vaccines manufactured by Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna were the only ones approved as boosters.

Those who received Sputnik V from Russia’s Gamaleya and Janssen shots can get a booster dose from only three —AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna.


Of the four jabs cleared as boosters, only AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna can be administered as a heterologous dose, or a vaccine brand that is different from the primary series. Sinovac’s CoronaVac may not be used as a booster for those who had received any of the other vaccines.

“New vaccine platforms are not recommended to be boosted with old vaccine platforms,” the DOH said.

Medical front-liners have the option to choose whether to receive a homologous (same shot as the primary vaccine) or a heterologous dose, as long as there is sufficient stock at the vaccination site.

The dosage for the booster jab would be the same as what was used in the primary series, except for Moderna: Pfizer (0.3 milliliter), Sinovac (0.5 ml), AstraZeneca (0.5 ml), Moderna (0.25 ml or half of the regular dose).

New CoronaVac arrivals

A total of 3,530,400 doses of CoronaVac arrived in Manila on Wednesday, completing the 52 million COVID-19 vaccines purchased by the government through foreign loans.

In all, the country has received 128.4 million doses since February. More than 54 million, or 42 percent, were CoronaVac.

Of the total CoronaVac shipments, 51,130,400 shots were procured by the national government through its regular budget and multilateral loans, 2 million were donated by the Chinese government and 900,000 doses were procured by the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., according to the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF).

NTF chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the completion of the orders from Sinovac was “a testament of our strong bilateral relations with China.”

Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian said Beijing would donate 2 million more doses of CoronaVac, which would arrive before Christmas Day.

Since the national vaccination started in March, 32.2 million have been fully vaccinated, or 29.2 percent of the country’s population of more than 110 million.

The daily vaccination rate averaged 845,108 over the last seven days. At that pace, it would take 94 more days for the government to fully vaccinate 70 percent of the population and achieve herd immunity.

New cases over 1K anew

The DOH recorded 1,190 new infections on Wednesday after the daily number dropped to 849 the previous day.

This raised the total national caseload to 2,820,494.

But active cases declined to 23,846 from Tuesday’s 25,464. Of the total, 58 percent had mild symptoms. The rest of the cases were moderate (19.6 percent), severe (12 percent), asymptomatic (5.2 percent), and critical (5 percent).

The DOH reported that 309 people had died, more than three times what was recorded on Tuesday, raising the death toll to 46,117. It clarified, however, that only 18 deaths occurred so far this month and that 61 percent of the deaths occurred in October but were recorded late.

The 2,579 recoveries increased the number of survivors to 2,750,531.

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The positivity rate remained within the World Health Organization benchmark of below 5 percent for the fifth straight day at 3.5 percent, after 1,174 tested positive out of a total of 33,567.


For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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